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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER  VON  HUJVEBOUDT.                 177
partly as fabulous.     Some calculated how deep in the
earth fluid and aerious matter were so condensed by
the pressure of superincumbent masses,   as to  exceed
platina in hardness;   others represented the  interior
of the  earth  as  a hollow ball, filled with unwieldy
matter  and  tremendous repulsive power; they even
imagined animals and plants as existing on the inner
surface of a central globe ; two subterranean., revolv-
ing planets., Pluto and Proserpine, were  said to illu-
minate this inner space, and near the north-pole the
opening which led to this inner  earth was supposed
to exist.     Humboldt relates that   Captain Symner, a
believer in this theory, repeatedly invited him and
Humphrey Davy to make such a subterranean expe-
dition.    So powerful,  says Hurnboldt, is the morbid
tendency of men to fill unseen spaces with marvellous
creations, totally disregarding the contradictory testi-
mony of well-founded  facts  and  universally-acknow-
ledged natural laws.
The result of Humboldt's researches on the interior
of the earth is a totally dififerent and a scientific one;
his views have become the basis of the present  doc-
trines.     Proceeding on the well-founded theory,  that
the form and density of the present earth must stand
in close relation to the forces which prevail through-
out   it,   independent   of   those   which   are produced
and influenced by the sun—Humboldt arrived at his
conclusions.     The flattening ef the earth, in conse-
quence of the  centrifugal power of a  rotatory ball,
shows that our earth has once been fluid.    When the
original mass.,  which   Humboldt   seems   inclined   to
•consider as a vaporous one in an  extreme degree  of
heat,   gradually   hardened.,    heat   must   have   been
evolved ; while the surface cooled, the centre of the
.earth must have remained fluid and hot, until, by the
continuous radiation of heat from the centre towards
the surface, a certain temperature has become perma-
nent, and the subterranean heat has remained higher
jas the  depth increases.    This is proved by the hot
waters of the Artesian springs,  the  temperature of
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